Biz: Interview w/ Cheryl Rafuse of Music Riot

Written by Aidan Rush Posted in: Biz on May 16, 2012

We’ve had some pretty cool interns here at IA over the last few years, and we’re proud to announce that our newest team member, Cheryl Rafuse, fits that mold quite nicely. A student at Emerson College, Cheryl’s been perceptive to the fact that the Boston music community is more disjointed than it should be, especially when it comes to the collegiate music community. Intent on connecting the dots between various scenes and professionals, Cheryl created Music Riot as part of her entrepreneurship minor. Read what she has to say about the project in the interview below, and if you’re interested in being a part of it, be sure to make it out to the Music Riot: On The Roof event in Kenmore Square on May 26th!

Indie Ambassador: What’s your story?

Music Riot: Music Riot’s story is pretty simple. I tried to start creating a network in the Boston music community and realized it was not going to be nearly as simple as the marketing world here. There was no organization, and a lot of people who sort of knew of each other but didn’t feel really connected. So when I needed a solid idea for my entrepreneurship minor at Emerson, I thought it would be cool to create something community based. Music Riot came out of that idea.

Indie Ambassador: What is the purpose of Music Riot?

MR: Music Riot is meant to be a place for aspiring college students and young professionals looking to get into the music industry here in Boston to meet like-minded people and form a community. It’s meant to bring together the music community that is existing in Boston as well as pass on advice and knowledge to the younger level of the industry. Boston has this weird thing where industry professionals and students will silo themselves off based on the genre of music they’re involved in, or what college they attend. Music Riot is meant to break down a few of those barriers to build a community around the idea that as more people get connected, Boston will become more of a friendly place towards new talent and more open networks.

Indie Ambassador: When you say that Boston area students with an interest in the music industry have a tendency to “Silo,” what do you mean?

MR: If you’re a student at Berklee, chances are you know all the Berklee bands and attend Berklee events. If you go to Northeastern you probably know all the NU bands and go to their events. Or whatever school you go to you probably go to a few of your own college’s music or networking type events. But when it comes to venturing onto another campus for an event, whether it be a concert or a networking event, the chances of a student actively deciding to pass over the threshold of another college’s front door is slim. Students get really comfortable in the bubble their particular school offers. At Emerson we frequently talk about “the Emerson bubble.” It’s a strange problem.

Rafuse: A boss in the music community and on rollerblades

Indie Ambassador: Is any of this a fault on the part of the universities?

MR: I don’t think so. I think it’s more the idea that each school has solidified a niche community simply by what they have to offer their students. A certain type of person decides Berklee is for them, just as a certain type of person finds Boston University to be their second home. When students go to other campuses, unless they already know some of the people there it’s easy to feel like you’re trespassing on somebody else’s turf.

Indie Ambassador: What is Music Riot doing to bring together this fractured community?

MR: For the summer we’re building the community. Piecing it together by having events that aren’t on college campuses. The goal is still networking, but on a neutral ground. You could say that people could do the same thing at any show around town, but when you’re at a show you can’t necessarily tell the people who are there just to see the band and the people whose life is music and are developing a career in it.

Indie Ambassador: Are you interested in helping established professionals network as well or only students?

MR: Music Riot is focusing on the college level because that’s where the most ‘silo-ing’ seems to take place. Established professionals are welcome and encouraged to come to our events, however, because the music industry isn’t just college kids.

Indie Ambassador: Getting your audience in one place at the same time is only half the battle. How do you plan to keep them coming back and actively participating?

MR: Once summer is over Music Riot has hopes to move into professional venues. Our plan is to have events that provide as much value to the Boston music community as possible. Events, starting in September, will include networking time, a speaker, panel, or moderated discussion, and a local band or two. Then rioters will be sure to meet some new people, learn a couple things, and hear a pretty sweet band, all in one night.

Indie Ambassador: Do you think the Boston music scene is more closed than scenes in other cities?

MR: To be completely honest I haven’t explored enough cities to definitively say. To me it feels pretty closed, but I also know the music industry is a hard nut to crack on its own. With my limited experience, however, it does seem strange to me that while talking to a friend of mine we had a decent back and forth naming Boston-based record labels and music companies the other had never heard of. That’s fairly disturbing for a city that’s so small. I’m not sure what causes that. I’ve had discussions for hours about it, but if somebody knows, hit me up.

Indie Ambassador: Please promote any upcoming Music Riot events here.

MR: Music Riot will be hosting an event called Music Riot: On the Roof at The Kenmore Rooftop on May 26th at 6pm. All details here!   

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